Myopia DegenerationDid you know that having myopia or short-sightedness is a risk factor for retinal degeneration later in life? Myopia, which is typically due to an elongation of the eyeball, leads to stretching and thinning of our retina. Depending on the severity of the myopia (how high the degree of short-sightedness), our retina may be affected centrally or peripherally.
Early treatment is needed
Central retinal stretching and thinning may lead to macular staphylomas, macular geographical atrophy, myopic lacquer cracks and myopic macular choroidal neovascularization. What does this all mean? It means that the macula (or central retina) may degenerate to a stage of atrophy (loss of photoreceptors) or it may crack resulting in retinal bleeding. In both situations, central vision will be affected and early treatment is needed.
Surgical treatment may be necessary
Furthermore, central retinal stretching may lead to Myopic Epiretinal Membranes, Myopic Macular Holes and Myopic Macular Schises. Both of these conditions require surgical treatment to relieve the vitreous traction brought about by the excessive stretching.
Peripheral retinal stretching leads to peripheral retinal degeneration such as lattice degeneration which may lead to retinal holes and tears. Untreated retinal holes and tears may lead to unwanted retinal detachment and sudden visual loss.
Prevention and regular checkup
As these degenerative changes are often asymptomatic until it is too late, it is prudent for those with high degrees of short-sightedness to get checked regularly for such conditions. Most people don’t realise that we should see the eye doctor routinely every year to maintain our eye wellness (similar to how we should see our dentists annually as well). Even more importantly, it is beneficial for us to try to prevent myopia increase in our children to avert these conditions completely.